According to “Oceans Under the Gun: Living Seas or Drilling Seas?”, a new report released today by Environment America and the Sierra Club, clean beaches and oceans support a vibrant coastal tourism and fishing economy that generates almost $200 billion per year.

The report shows that the annual value of the sustainable economy based on tourism and fishing in the most regions of the country, with the exception of parts of the Gulf of Mexico, is approximately one and a half to twenty times larger than the annual value of oil and gas resources that we might find offshore. In the North Atlantic the ratio is 12 to 1; in the Mid-Atlantic the ratio is almost 4 to 1; in the South Atlantic the ratio is almost 21 to 1; on Florida’s west coast the ratio is almost 1.5 to 1; and on the Pacific coast the ratio is about 3 to 1.

Over the next few months Congress will decide whether to allow expanded drilling off our coasts as part of the energy and global warming legislation now moving through Congress. The eastern Gulf of Mexico is the area most at risk, but other regions like California, New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast are also threatened by some proposals.